Siphon Draw Hiking Trail to Flatiron Mesa
★★★★★ Difficult / Phoenix Area:
Breathtaking views, from the bow of this immense “granite ship,” reward hikers for making the scramble up the butt-kicking final 1.5 miles of Siphon Draw Hiking Trail. Nestled between two of the Superstition Mountain’s most dramatic canyons, the first half of this hike is a deceptively easy preamble to the steep craggy trail that follows – where a 2,000 foot elevation gain is compressed into a challenging 1.5 mile hike, that practically defines the term “rock scramble.”
TRAILHEAD: 6109 N. Apache Trail, Apache Junction • DIFFICULTY: difficult • DISTANCE: 3 MILES (6 miles RT) • APPROX. TIME: 5-6 HOURS • ELEVATION GAIN: 3,000 FEET (214 STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 1,020-1,140 • BEST TIME OF YEAR: SEPT. – MAY • PETS: YES (but steepness could be difficult) • KID FRIENDLY: No • FACILITIES: YES • FEES: $7 Day use (or annual State Parks Pass)
Looking up at Flatiron Mesa looming, like a distant battleship, above the Siphon Draw Hiking Trail in Lost Dutchman State Park, it is immediately clear that this trail doesn’t fall into the “just floating along” category. Here, at the tip of the Superstition Mountains, vertical cliffs jut straight up from the earth, shielding the view of the trail where it makes its way up the tight crevices between them.
From the trailhead, the path meanders up a gentle hill to the base of these imposing granite walls, becoming mildly steeper as it approaches. As the trail rounds the base of the first cliff a peek at the ongoing route becomes visible: a mostly straight jaunt up a groove between humongous rock formations and sheer precipices. No steepness-minimizing switchbacks here!
About 1.5 miles (and 1,000 feet up) into the hike, an expansive stone basin appears – looking like an curvaceous wave beckoning hikers onto the craggy shores that follow. This is the end of the official Siphon Draw Hiking Trail, and a great place for a quick reset and to turn around and take in the already formidable views of Apache Junction below. A well used unofficial trail, up to the mesa, continues on the far side of the basin.
Beyond this point the hike rapidly angles, ascending long tiers of layered granite, caches of huge stones and tall rock scrambles. Markers can be scant, and there are a number of dead-ending, false trails that lead off to the right. As a general rule follow the leftmost trail to reach the top of the mesa.
At the crest of the mountain the trail splits into a V: heading left towards battleship rock, and right out onto the top of Flatiron Mesa. From here it is easy sailing. Like the bow of the Titanic, the top of this mesa leads out to an arc of sheer cliffs, forming a huge granite “hull” below. Incredible birds-eye views span hundreds of miles in all directions: of Apache Junction, Queen Creek, Phoenix and beyond.
Throughout the early 1900’s, the mesa was referred to as both Ship Rock and Flatiron – since settlers thought it looked like either the bow of a ship, or one of the pre-electric, flat metal irons used to press clothing at the time. Clearly the fashionistas won out.
Directions From the intersection of I-17 and AZ-10 (in Phoenix), drive east on AZ-10 for 11.9 miles to exit 154/US-60 E. Merge onto US-60 E (towards Mesa/Globe) and continue 24.6 miles to exit 196/AZ-88, Idaho Road. Turn left/east on AZ-88/Idaho Road (which becomes Apache Trail Road) and drive 7.2 miles to the entry for Lost Dutchman State Park, on the right.
- Apache Junction, Butte, Canyon, Central Arizona, Dayhike, Difficult, Lost Dutchman State Park, Phoenix Area, Plateau, Superstition Mountains, Views
- May 16, 2015